One can observe interesting trends when looking at historical watch design. Early wristwatches were commonly round following in the footsteps of their pocket-watch forefathers. The early century artdeco craze led to intricate teardrop lugs and rounded, stepped bezels and onion crowns. The Second World War brought extreme dial functionality and thicker cases to withstand the tolerances of combat, and the digital era brought sci-fi like readouts and digitized quartz movements with lightweight cases to carry them.
A designer who has consistently impacted the watch industry and is widely considered a hero of 20th Century watch design is Gérald Genta, who made his greatest fame through brands such as Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe.
Swiss-born Charles Gérald Genta was traditionally a jewellery designer, and among the above brands also designed watches for IWC (the Ingenieur) and Universal Genève, Cartier (the Pascha de Cartier) and Bvlgari (the Bvlgari Bvlgari). He died in 2011 leaving an extraordinary legacy of watch designs on the market. He had produced many of his own private designs as well during his career which are, and always were, incredibly hard to get your hands on. These were limited in production and reserved for his elite contacts and customers. He sold his own named business to Bvlgari in 1999, which sits under the umbrella of mega luxury group Louis-Vuitton-Moet-Hennesy (LVMH).
Genta is best known today for two designs – the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and the Patek Philippe Nautilus. Both these pieces have been among the most desired and popular watches on the market since their respective launches in 1972 and 1976, with todays buying prices exceeding the retail prices with massive premiums (RRP Approx £19k GBP, average market price circa £30k GBP). These premiums continue to increase, as do their retail prices every year.
A designer such as Genta is the epitome of foresight in visual architecture and design trend with so many successful designs in such a small and discerning market. All a pleasure to own, all sounds long-term investments, and all so obviously his designs.